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1  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Announcements & Updates / Republic Records, Federal Films And Universal Music Theatrical Announcement on: June 13, 2019, 12:15:59 pm
Republic Records, Federal Films And Universal Music Theatrical Announce The Development Of An Original Musical
This is a story about those people who live, love and die on the underside of the American Dream in small towns all across our country. This is a tale, laced with humor and visceral energy, about star-crossed lovers, and their stubborn refusal to give up, to lie down, to let go of the potential their youthful dreams once promised. This is also a story about a town in free-fall, and the tough choices people make, not always in their best interests. Book by MacArthur Fellow, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and Obie Award winning playwright Naomi Wallace and will be directed by 3-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall, music and lyrics by John Mellencamp.

More details will be announced in the Fall
2  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Announcements & Updates / End of The John Mellencamp Show Tour Merch Sale! on: May 03, 2019, 08:19:59 am
Head to the store for great tour merch deals!

3  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Ticket & Tour Questions / Re: vip package on: April 25, 2019, 12:07:25 pm
Going to Tucson show. have first row VIP package. Still haven't received any package swag. Any thoughts?

Please email for an update, if possible forward them your order email confirmation. That is answered by AEG Live who is the tour promoter and vendor for the VIP Ticket Packages.
4  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / John Mellencamp brings high energy, humor to the First Interstate Center for the on: April 23, 2019, 08:23:24 am

By Azaria Podplesky
(509) 459-5024
Before he took the stage Saturday at the First Interstate Center for the Arts, John Mellencamp sent fans on a trip down memory lane via a documentary detailing the ups and downs of his lengthy career.

“I don’t think in 1975 anybody would have imagined that we’d be doing this today,” he’s heard saying as photos of a young Mellencamp flash on screen. “The longevity of this is surprising. It’s all been a happy accident.”

The documentary touched on the health scares that led to Mellencamp taking a break from life on the road and the impact of Mellencamp’s music over the years.

The video wasn’t wholly necessary as most in the crowd likely already knew just about all there is to know about Mellencamp, but it was a nice primer nonetheless.

“I always learn something from my audience,” Mellencamp said as the documentary came to an end. “I wonder what I’ll learn tonight.”

With a wave to the crowd, Mellencamp launched into “Lawless,” “Troubled Land” and the still-powerful “Minutes to Memories.”

“Small Town” followed, getting the whole crowd on its feet for the first of many times, then Mellencamp addressed the audience.

“This is the way things are going to go tonight,” he said. “We’re going to play songs you know, songs you don’t know, songs you can sing to and songs you can dance to…

There’s going to be a quiet section. If you’re one of those loud (expletive)s, go out in the hallway. We got a deal?”

To seal the deal, Mellencamp led the audience in an a capella version of Louis Armstrong’s “Long Gone (From Bowlin’ Green), followed by a full-band cover of Robert Johnson’s blues-y tune “Stones in My Passway.”

After performing “We Are the People,” “Lonely Ol’ Night” and “Check It Out,” Mellencamp let the audience know the quiet section had arrived.

He then took a few moments to tell a sweet story about his grandmother, though he mentioned he was originally going to take it out of the set but didn’t know “if the people in Oregon” had heard it.

Before her death at the age of 100, Mellencamp’s grandmother called him to her bedside. Once there, Mellencamp’s grandmother told him, affectionately calling him “buddy,” that they needed to pray.

After an “uncomfortably long” time, Mellencamp’s grandmother wrapped things up with “Me and Buddy are ready to come home.”

Mellencamp, unable to stop himself, blurted out “Grandma, what the (expletive)? Buddy’s not ready to come home. Buddy’s got a lot more singing he intends to do.”

Mellencamp told the crowd that whenever there was a quiet moment in his life, he believed his grandmother was looking over him, and that now she was looking over the members of the audience too.

Mellencamp ended the story on a poignant note.

“When she was 99, she said ‘Buddy, I love you, but you’re going to find out life is short even in your longest days’.”

A performance of, of course, “Longest Days” followed, as did an acoustic, though still lively, version of “Jack and Diane.”

Joined by violinist Miriam Sturm and pianist Troye Kinnett, Mellencamp then told the audience he thinks we can all agree on the freedom of speech, that we’re all created equal, that women deserve equal pay and that children deserve quality education no matter what their economic background, a perfect lead in to “Easy Target,” a moving, political song off his 2017 record “Sad Clowns and Hillbillies.”

At the end of the song, Mellencamp waved a white flag, briefly took a knee, then left the stage while Sturm and Kinnett, now playing accordion, continued to play.

When he returned to the stage, Mellencamp and band made it known the quiet section was over with high energy performances of “Rain on the Scarecrow,” “Paper in Fire,” “Crumblin’ Down” and a mash-up of Mellencamp’s “Authority Song” and the Chris Kenner tune “Land of 1000 Dances,” which was made famous by Wilson Pickett.

After “Pink Houses,” Mellencamp shared another fun story with the audience, this one about longtime guitarist Mike Wanchic’s long ago arrest for lewd vagrancy.

“The only problem with talking about old times is you’ve got to be old to talk about them,” Mellencamp said.

Wanting to “end the show with a song about the good times,” Mellencamp and Co. played “Cherry Bomb,” a song about the time Mellencamp spent at the Last Exit Teen Club when he was a teenager.

Before leaving the stage for good, Mellencamp got the audience to join him for another singalong of “Long Gone (From Bowlin’ Green).”

During the documentary, the narrator noted that Mellencamp “sang about the joys and struggles of ordinary people trying to make their way.”

Judging from the crowd that hung onto Mellencamp’s every word, just as strong as they were in his youth, it’s clear the ordinary people in Spokane still appreciate him for giving them a voice.
5  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / John Mellencamp delivers a raucous night at the FIC Saturday on: April 22, 2019, 06:41:33 pm

John Mellencamp, even at age 67, is still kind of a punk.

Not a punk in the mohawk, slam-dancing, Sex Pistols way, but in the way old-timers used to eyeball a certain sort of long-haired, cigarette-smoking loudmouth and mutter "damn punk" at what he saw as a harbinger of society's collapse.

At his packed concert at Spokane's First Interstate Center for the Arts Saturday night, Mellencamp proved to still be the kind of guy who revels in stirring shit up. Whether it was calling the folks screaming during the show's quieter moments "motherf—-ers," or including point-blank political commentary in favor of Black Lives Matter (including taking a knee) and the working poor in his between-song banter and videos, Mellencamp still loves to fight authority, as one of his biggest hits says, and he comes out grinnin'.

So did the fans after an excellent show of roughly 20 songs delivered over nearly two hours after a 20-minute video introducing Mellencamp's personal philosophy as illustrated by painters, piano players and the like.

Adorned in a dark jumpsuit that would look at home on a Jiffy Lube mechanic, and surrounded by his stellar six-piece band, Mellencamp took the stage and immediately started to go back and forth between songs dissecting the hard times and confusion in the country and songs evoking the good old days. "Lawless Times" and "Troubled Land" made way for the damn near perfect "Minutes to Memories" from his Scarecrow album, followed by the first of his biggest hits to arrive, "Small Town."

Mellencamp has no problem evoking wistful nostalgia through stories about his grandmother's deathbed lessons and or tales about longtime band member Mike Wanchic's popularity with the ladies when Mellencamp was first touring back in the '70s. Of course, he did the same with songs like "Jack & Diane," this night delivered solo on acoustic guitar, with the audience all too happy to do most of the heavy lifting on vocals.

Mellencamp brings a theatrical flair to his shows, as does his band. "Easy Target" was borderline performance art as he delivered lines about vast sections of American society who are little more than what the title suggests, and his a cappella take on Louis Armstrong's "Long Gone (from the Bowlin' Green)" connected him and audience through a call-and-response section so well it made another appearance as he left the stage at the end of the night. His violinist Miriam Sturm was part-cheerleader, part-foil for her fellow instrumentalists, and guitarists Wanchic and Andy York traded tough guitar licks all evening, joined by Mellencamp on guitar as well when he wasn't dancing.

Of course, what most in attendance were there for were the monster hits, and Mellencamp has a lot of them. It's remarkable looking back at the '80s when Mellencamp's songs of struggling farmers ("Rain on the Scarecrow") and economic struggle ("Pink Houses") were huge pop hits played on Top 40 radio alongside Madonna or Michael Jackson. Judging by their continued potency Saturday, I'd certainly argue Mellencamp's songs aged better than "Like A Virgin" or "Beat It." 

The show-closing rush of hits — "Rain on the Scarecrow," "Paper in Fire," "Crumblin' Down," "Authority Song," "Pink Houses" and "Cherry Bomb" — is one hell of a way to end a show.

John Mellencamp's Saturday setlist:
Lawless Times
Troubled Land
Minutes to Memories
Small Town
Long Gone (from Bowlin' Green)
Stones in My Passway
We Are The People
Lonely Ol' Night
Check It Out
Longest Days
Jack & Diane
Easy Target
Rain on the Scarecrow
Paper in Fire
Crumblin' Down
Authority Song/Land of 1,000 Dances
Pink Houses
Cherry Bomb
Long Gone (from Bowlin' Green) reprise
6  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / MW interview Longtime rockers still honor rural roots on: April 19, 2019, 09:31:46 am

John Mellencamp and his bandmates have never forgotten their Indiana roots, and it remains true today.

"In 1986 we stopped making records anywhere but Bloomington," guitarist Mike Wanchic says. "People drifted off, and we added members, but they all had Indiana roots. It's the reason we've stayed unique, and developed at our own pace without outside elements."

Mellencamp, Wanchic and the band come to Portland to play at Keller Auditorium, Tuesday, April 23.

Wanchic, who has known Mellencamp since the days just after each left college, says they have stayed Midwest folks because they never moved west or east and became influenced by Los Angeles and New York types.

"We never succumbed and moved to the coast," Wanchic says. "We stayed in Bloomington, Indiana, and we were the biggest band in the county, man. We weren't cognizant of it at the time, but in hindsight, we weren't hanging out at the Rainbow Room or Roxy Theatre on Sunset Boulevard, and didn't get into the glam scene."

It's the band that gave us the 1980s hits "Hurts So Good," "Jack & Diane," "Pink Houses," "Small Town" "R.O.C.K. in the USA," "Authority Song" and more.

It all began in the late 1970s with "I Need a Lover," when Mellencamp went by the name John Cougar. (He changed to John Cougar Mellencamp in 1983 and then dropped the Cougar). He and Wanchic had met in 1976 at a recording studio when Wanchic was fresh out of DePauw University and Mellencamp from Vincennes University.

Their status as a band was tenuous until the hits started coming, such as "Ain't Even Done With the Night." Nicknamed "Chief," Wanchic says: "We made four albums before we had any success at all. When we made 'American Fool,' we thought it was our last shot." Instead, the album that produced "Hurts So Good" and "Jack & Diane" skyrocketed them to fame, thanks in part to MTV.

"Since that point, nobody has said 'boo' to us about how to make a record, not a single word," Wanchic says.

They have never rested on their laurels, as 23 albums proves, the latest being "Sad Clowns and Hillbillies." Mellencamp, who's also an avid painter, also has earned a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, among many other honors.

"This is a machine out here," Wanchic says. "The great part of this band (is), when you over-rehearse, you don't have to do anything on stage except your performance. Everything is really well-rehearsed.

"What makes it difficult is with 23 albums ... what do you play? You have to play hits, but we're also satisfying ourselves artistically. You have to find a balance of albums. We put together a really good show."

Indeed, "a band that plays existing material has no new material. We're continuing to make new records," he adds. "(John's) still a vital writer, better than ever. When you turn 60 (Mellencamp is 67), who says talent falls off? The band is better. Everything has never been better."

"The John Mellencamp Show" stops at the Keller Auditorium, 222 S.W. Clay St., 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 23. Tickets are $39.50-$129.50 and available at
7  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / Farm Aid, rock 'n' roll and avoiding LA: How John Mellencamp became the ultimate on: April 15, 2019, 12:31:04 pm

Great old photos in this article!

Johnny Cash called him one of the best songwriters of all time. Bob Dylan counts his output among the best around. Today’s country stars worship his brand of heartland rock.
John Mellencamp is adored by some of the music industry’s best and by fans who still pay to put “Jack & Diane” on the jukebox or crank up “Play Guitar” whenever it comes on the radio.
Mellencamp, who plays Omaha’s Orpheum Theater on Monday, is the progenitor of Americana rock, distilling folk and rock ’n’ roll and blues and country into something distinctly Midwestern. His 1985 album, “Scarecrow,” not only left us with memorable hits — “Small Town” and “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” among them — it also made Mellencamp popular with rock stars and regular Midwesterners alike, cementing him as a once-in-a-generation voice who, in turn, gave voice to us here in the heartland.
Hall of Famers like Mellencamp routinely perform around here — Phil Collins, Diana Ross and Ringo Starr are all on the way soon — but few of them, if any, are as inherently middle-of-the-country as Mellencamp. He’s like us.
We were born in small towns. We live in small towns. We’ll probably die in small towns.
Ditto for Mellencamp.
“I’m not leaving Indiana. I’m going to die here,” he told Rolling Stone, echoing his own lyrics.
And Mellencamp has walked the walk in other ways. He helped create Farm Aid to help family farmers during the farm crisis of the 1980s. He physically joined farmers in grassroots protests, and showed for hearings on Capitol Hill.
Along the way, he surged past the everyman rock of Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty to become the heartland rocker.
The year after his concert at a protest in Chillicothe, Missouri, John Mellencamp spoke in front of the Senate’s agriculture committee, calling attention to farmers who were losing their land.
Mellencamp remained in Indiana because it was important to stay true to his roots, said Mike Wanchic, Mellencamp’s collaborator and guitarist of more than 40 years.
“You weren’t being influenced by the people at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go or the Rainbow Room. You’re not faced by those trends,” Wanchic told The World-Herald earlier this month. “That’s one of the things that has allowed us to maintain a long career and maintain autonomy. ... Living in isolation was an important part of it.”
Mellencamp has always been an outsider, and that, he says, helped him create alt-country and Americana.
“I had to create my own job and create my own genre and, consequently, do what I think they now call Americana,” Mellencamp told CBS.
But it’s not like he woke up one day and decided to create a genre of music. He was just doing what he knew.
During his speech at his 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Mellencamp said he found his voice with “Scarecrow,” an album that painted a bleak picture of the Midwest. It was his fifth album, and he knew what he wanted it to sound like — classic American writers such as Tennessee Williams, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner.
“I think people, particularly in the Midwest, really identified with these characters. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and said, ‘I’m Jack and I’m Diane. You wrote about my life.’ To me, that’s a successful song,” he told Rolling Stone.
And Mellencamp’s songs resonated with other artists, too, particularly those in country.
“About 99 percent of modern country music, I think, is about small-town life and about growing up in the heartland,” country star Jake Owen told Billboard. “There’s a part of us that all want to be kind of like him. We want to be that all-American, white-T-shirt-wearin’, roll-your-sleeves-up center and grit of America.”
Mellencamp decided to pursue music after graduating from Vincennes University, a junior college in Indiana.
He met Wanchic when both were just out of school. Wanchic was an intern at a recording studio in Indiana. Mellencamp came to record some demos. They’ve been making music together ever since.
Not all of their songs were hits. Not at first. And the responses Mellencamp and Wanchic got from producers, record executives and others were just another thing that kept them in Indiana.
“We had been making dud after dud record,” Wanchic said. “Then, all of the sudden, it happened. ‘Why don’t you move to L.A.?’ Well, we’re not moving to L.A. We remember every one of you people who thought we were absolutely horrible.”
His allegiance to small towns and regular folks is the reason Mellencamp co-founded Farm Aid alongside Willie Nelson and Neil Young. The concert series has been held every year since the first show in Champaign, Illinois, in 1985.
Two years later, Farm Aid III came to Lincoln.
The original idea was that they’d put on one massive concert to benefit family farmers and raise awareness for their plight. If they did that, the federal government would have to take notice and do something.
“Why are all these small towns going out of business? Because everybody went to live in the city? No. It was because corporate farming had moved in and run the small family farmer out of business. Which is why we started Farm Aid,” Mellencamp told CBS.
“Every time I fly on an airplane,” Wanchic said, “you look out of that window, and what do you see? You see rural America. That is really the backbone and fabric of what America really is. We want to make sure that tradition carries on for many generations.”
Farm Aid concerts continue each September. The shows have raised more than $53 million to date.
About 70,000 people attended the 1987 show in Lincoln, which featured Mellencamp, Nelson and Young as well as Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Steppenwolf, Lyle Lovett, John Denver, Lou Reed, Joe Walsh and others.
Broadcast live around the country, it was the biggest concert ever held in Nebraska, netting $1.9 million to help farmers.
Nelson kicked things off. Mellencamp played “Small Town.” Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge did a duet. John Denver did “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Nelson and others gathered to close the show, singing “This Land Is Your Land” while fireworks exploded in the background.
“We were kind of the host band,” Wanchic said. “We’d play five or six times a day. I can’t remember who all we played with that day. But I do remember Lou Reed. It seemed like such a juxtaposition. There I am onstage, playing some of the most incredibly oddball songs to play in Lincoln. It was a remarkable event.”
A year earlier, Mellencamp had played a three-song set and joined 10,000 farmers for a protest in Chillicothe, Missouri. The next year, just three months before the Lincoln show, he testified in front of the Senate’s agriculture committee, calling attention to farmers who were losing their land.
“This isn’t new for me to be worried about farmers,” Mellencamp said at the time. “I grew up in a farm community of 15,000. My friends are all farmers.”

John Mellencamp has often tried to call attention to the plight of America’s farmers, including in 1986, when he played a three-song set in a parking lot as part of a protest in Chillicothe, Missouri.
Despite the risk of alienating some fans, Mellencamp, Nelson and Young continue to rally around their favorite causes, especially Farm Aid.
In a 2014 interview, Nelson told The World-Herald he believes calling attention to a problem is the best way to get people in power to act.
“People with a voice should use it,” Nelson said. “Everyone has a voice of one kind or another. ... If we keep telling them about it over and over again, maybe they will (take notice).”
Mellencamp has certainly never stopped trying. That’s likely one reason he’ll be playing the Orpheum — a more intimate setting — instead of one of Nebraska’s two large arenas.
But Mellencamp wouldn’t be Mellencamp if he did it any other way.
“Oh, I’ve been booed,” he told CBS. “And I remember Neil Young walked up to me after it was over, and he goes, ‘Whatever you said, keep saying it.’ ”
During John's time in New York City performing his three sold out shows at The Beacon Theater on The John Mellencamp Show Tour, he met with Elizabeth Quinn Brown of Architectural Digest for a tour of his SoHo loft.  “To live an artist’s life, you have to create every day,” he says. “When I was there, there was no place for me to paint, no place for me to write, so I bought this little place.” Read this exclusive interview and view photos of the loft taken by William Abranowicz HERE.
9  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / The Sarasota Post: The John Mellencamp Show Brings Middle America to Ruth Eckerd on: April 01, 2019, 09:26:02 am
The Sarasota Post: The John Mellencamp Show Brings Middle America to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL
04.01.2019 - The Sarasota Post - By Vicky Sullivan

Indiana’s musical son John Mellencamp played two sold-out shows on Friday & Saturday night in Clearwater. The Midwest native brought the hits and then some. Starting off the show with a 24-minute film excerpt about his life and career from his 2017 full-length film “Plain Spoken”.You can catch the entire film on Netflix. It is a well-done film, part documentary, part live music with John narrating and telling the stories of his life.

Mellencamp came to the stage with “Lawless Times”, a song about the current state of life in the U.S. from streaming music to the Catholic church. John has always been regarded as a musical spokesman for the Midwest, but the reason his music resonates across the nation is that he writes about the human condition in America. His experience in the music business from being named “John Cougar” to sell records to fighting his way to being the real Mellencamp has given him a unique view. He is the quintessential rebel who does it his way whether writing music or painting artwork which is now being shown in museums.

The first hit on the setlist was 1985’s “Small Town” which brought the audience to its feet. Many people are from the big cities but most of our country is made up of small towns from east to west which is why people relate to it. Everyone knows the story of John coming from small town Seymour, Indiana and making it big in music and on MTV. 1985 also brought the advent of the “Farm Aid” concert. John, Neil Young and Willie Nelson organized the first show and today are on the board of directors along with Dave Matthews, still putting their money where their mouths are helping the American farmer! Check out the website for Farm Aid

John Mellencamp played at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FLAnother thought-provoking tune was “Easy Target”, from his critically acclaimed album “Sad Clowns and Cowboys”. Lyrics telling the real-time story about all of us being easy targets of the random shooter to the struggle of Black Lives Matter. Mellencamp has never minced his words and sings for the downtrodden. He makes a huge statement at the end of the emotional song by taking a knee! The audience was extremely quiet with the exception of a few people clapping.

John Mellencamp brought his great band with him to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FLMid-show John does a tribute to his grandmother, who always called him “Buddy”, with a story of a spiritual experience he had with her. Touching and humorous it takes him into his tune about life with “Longest Days” from his 2008 album Life, Death, Love, Freedom. The second half of the show starts a laundry list of hits with “Crumblin’ Down” and the audience is up on their feet for the majority of the rest of the show. The band leaves the stage with John alone on acoustic guitar for a sing-along of one of his biggest hits, “Jack & Diane”, where the audience is really doing most of the singing, knowing every word and every clap! It is a fun, youthful moment for the mostly boomer audience, including Mellencamp with a smile on his face.

John’s band is one of the best in the business. Guitarist Mike Wanchic has been around since the beginning. John tells a hilarious story about the band coming here in the 70’s and Mike getting arrested with John going to the jail to bail him out. Andy York on guitar and drummer Dane Clark have been in the band since the 90’s. John Gunnell is on bass and Troye Kinnett on keyboard and accordion. Kinnett and the amazing violinist Miriam Sturm perform a duet of accordion and violin that includes a nod to John’s first hit “I Need a Lover”.

John Mellencamp plays his guitar at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL“Authority Song” has the audience singing with fists in the air in agreement “Authority always wins!” “Pink Houses” is the anthem for middle America. Of course, John’s line of “Working in some high rise and vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico” was not lost on the Tampa Bay audience who were yelling and howling at the line. The #1 hit “Cherry Bomb”, a tribute to the 60’s nightclub scene, closed the show. John is one of our most prolific songwriters writing about life during this era in the U.S.A. He has come a long way from the days of “John Cougar”, but we are glad he will still sing the songs about them.

You can find tour dates and info at
10  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / Tampa Bay Times Clearwater Review on: March 30, 2019, 08:14:54 am
For a few minutes after the house lights went dark Friday night at Ruth Eckerd Hall, some 2,100 fans could’ve been forgiven for wondering: Wait, where is John Mellencamp going?

Before Mellencamp took the stage in Clearwater, he screened a cinematic 24-minute film looking back at his career and philosophy on music, replete with sweeping shots of combines, cornfields and slo-mo brush strokes on canvas – a Koyaanisqatsian tone poem on artistic expression in America.

“I don’t think that anybody in 1975 imagined that we would still be doing this today,” Mellencamp said in a voice-over. “The longevity of this is surprising.”

It all felt a bit like the start of a farewell, something more than a few of Mellencamp’s peers are doing these days.

But then the 67-year-old songwriter ambled out in a dark mechanic’s jumpsuit, surrounded by a band in suits and gowns. And like the Indiana farm boy he is, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work.

In the first of two sold-out nights in Clearwater, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer relied less on the nostalgic pull of his can’t-miss heartland hits, and more on grit, spittle and riff after riff after riff. Forget dusty farewells and dabs with a monogrammed hankie. Mellencamp and his band seem out to prove they can still R-O-C-K in the USA.

“People love to talk about old times,” he said. “The only problem when you talk about old times is you gotta be old to talk about them.”

True, Mellencamp does move gingerly at times, unlike the spry Johnny Cougar of the '70s. But he does in fact still move, especially on some old favorite soul and blues numbers. On the Louis Armstrong song Long Gone (From Bowling Green), he led an impassioned call and response with the crowd. And on Robert Johnson’s Stones In My Passway, he shimmied, shuffled and screamed atop a randy slide guitar, busting out his best James Brown or Charles Bradley.

His voice, while weathered as whiskey-soaked boot leather, isn’t dead by a long shot. Instead he’s steering into the gravelly growl of his age, channeling Tom Waits or the best parts of Dylan on the stompy Troubled Land and accordion-buoyed Longest Days. Even Jack and Diane, delivered as an acoustic campfire strum-along, saw him swapping impassioned verses with the audience.

And on nearly every plugged-in song -- Lonely Ol’ Night, Crumblin’ Down, Paper In Fire -- Mellencamp punched and poked and snapped his wrists as his band, particularly guitarists Mike Wanchic and Andy York and violinist Mirium Sturm, muscled out righteous, furious chords across the stage.

At times, the message fit the music. Ever the rabble-rouser, Mellencamp railed against authority on Lawless Times and We Are the People, and worked overtime for the working man on the raging Rain on the Scarecrow. His most overtly activist song by far was 2017’s Easy Target, which touched on living wages and Black Lives Matter, and ended with Mellencamp, that hero of flyover country, bending to a knee at center stage.

If it bothered the Hoosiers in the house, they didn’t let it show on beloved singles like the inviting, communal Check It Out; the stir-'em-up rocker Authority Song; or the forever-timeless Pink Houses, still anthemic after all these years, especially when the Clearwater crowd belted out the line about vacationing down at the Gulf of Mexico.

Much earlier on, he jolted fans to their feet with perhaps his best-known hit, Small Town. And when he got to the last verse, and he sang the line "That’s probably where they’ll bury me," he took a step back, and milked that pause as the whole house sustained their applause.

In that moment, the crowd had to imagine an America without John Mellencamp. Someday he’ll stop for good, and that’ll be that. The retirement will be real, and the film will fade to black.

But then he and the band kicked back in, and the crowd pumped their fists and stomped along. Life goes on, as Jackie once sang to Diane. And for a little while longer, so does Johnny Cougar.
11  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / St. Louis Post- Dispatch: John Mellencamp Connects With Fans In A Show Of Hits, on: March 27, 2019, 01:30:20 pm
St. Louis Post- Dispatch: John Mellencamp Connects With Fans In A Show Of Hits, Covers And Quiet Moments

03.14.2019 - By Daniel Durchholz Special to the Post-Dispatch ;

Not many concerts come with a kind of spoken-word user’s manual, but John Mellencamp’s show Tuesday night at Stifel Theatre did.
“Here’s the way this is gonna go down tonight,” he said a few songs into his 100-minute performance. “We’re gonna do some songs you know, some songs you don’t know, some songs you can sing along with and some songs you can dance to.”

He noted there would also be some quieter moments and said, “If you’re one of those (expletives) that need to scream during the quiet section, can you please go out in the hallway and do that?”

That’s the kind of announcement nearly every concert could use.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer delivered on his promise with a set dominated by hits, favorites and a couple of n cover tunes, and the audience held up its part of the bargain, too. But it was those quiet and lesser-known songs that gave the evening some of its most resonant moments.

Mellencamp performed a stark, dramatic take of his 2017 song “Easy Targets,” which describes the country’s disregard for its most vulnerable citizens and mourns “our country’s broken heart.” Dressed in workman’s coveralls, Mellencamp sang the song’s concluding lines and took a knee as the stage lights dimmed.

Earlier, he sang “We Are the People,” another song of solidarity with the less fortunate and a word of support — but also a warning — for those in power. “You see yourself as a leader/You know our thoughts are with you,” he sang, adding, “If you try to divide and conquer/We’ll rise up to impeach you.”

If that sounds like a promise/threat addressing issues of the day, consider that it’s a song — with slightly altered lyrics — from “The Lonesome Jubilee,” an album released in 1987.

Mellencamp, an Indiana native, is rock’s poet laureate of the heartland, but his songs form a more complex perspective on the region than the typical red state/blue state view that dominates the national discussion. The small towns and farms he sings about have been hit hard economically and are politically mixed. They’re purple, like a bruise.

He also offered acoustic takes on “Longest Day,” a song based on wisdom received from his grandmother, and a loud audience sing-along of one of his signature tunes, “Jack & Diane.”

Mellencamp made fine use of his six-piece backing band, which included guitarists Andy York and Mike Wanchic and violinist Miriam Sturm. They added dynamic twists and turns to hits such as “Small Town” and “Lonely Ol’ Night” and did a rollicking version of Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway,” the show’s sole offering from “Other People’s Stuff,” Mellencamp’s 2018 album of cover tunes.

The latter part of the show was devoted to hits, including “Paper in Fire,” “Crumblin’ Down,” “Authority Song” and, of course, “Pink Houses.”

Mellencamp told a story of his first time playing St. Louis — “probably in ‘73 or ‘74,” he said. In the middle of the night, he was called to bail Wanchic out of jail on a charge of “lewd vagrancy.”

He thought about what those words meant and said, “Well (expletive), we live in that way in Indiana every day.”

Following that trip down memory lane, Mellencamp ended the show with a song that is itself pure nostalgia, “Cherry Bomb.”

TThere was no encore or opening act. Instead, the evening had kicked off with a 20-minute film that emphasized Mellencamp’s dedication to his art and attempts to stay true to it — a point underlined perfectly by the show that followed.

Set list
“Lawless Times”

“Troubled Land”

“Minutes to Memories”

“Small Town”

“Long Gone (From the Bowlin’ Green)”

“Stones in My Passway”

“We Are the People”

“Lonely Ol’ Night”

“Check It Out”

“Longest Days”

“Jack & Diane”

“Easy Target”


“Rain on the Scarecrow”

“Paper in Fire”

“Crumblin’ Down”

“Authority Song”/“Land of 1000 Dances”

“Pink Houses”

“Cherry Bomb”

“Long Gone (From the Bowlin’ Green)” (reprise)

Tags: St. Louis Post-Dispatch The John Mellencamp Show Revie
12  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / All-you-can-Mellencamp buffet of new and classic songs, stories — and a movie on: March 27, 2019, 01:28:58 pm

In a world that lives on social media, the announcement before the John Mellencamp show at Ovens Auditorium on Friday felt unusual.

“We are deadly serious about this — no photography or videography is allowed during the performance,” a voice proclaimed over a loudspeaker, her words overcoming the chatter in the women’s restroom line.

“Deadly serious,” one concertgoer repeated.

But first, a surprisingly slow start: a short movie kicked off the show. The crowd erupted in applause when the lights dimmed, only to slowly sink back down into their seats upon discovery that Ovens had become a makeshift movie theater. As fans not-so-patiently waited in their seats, it would be easy to forget that we were actually here for a live event.

The flick took us through Mellencamp’s career, from the early days as John Cougar to his overnight fame and then a decision after a heart attack at 42 to take a step back to figure out the important things.

A touching film, but the real fans knew much of the story anyway, did they not?

“The first time I heard John Mellencamp, I was at my grandmother’s house in Michigan,” a male voice said on the film, and the crowd in Charlotte chuckled — many were likely grandparents themselves, playing “Jack & Diane” for their own grandchildren in their own homes.

Soon enough, the crowd grew weary of the movie. Rounds of clapping would start and then stop as people waited impatiently for their star. “Play the music!” someone yelled from the balcony at one point. It would be more than 20 minutes before he took the stage.

Finally, after another announced reminder — this one to put away phones completely — Mellencamp himself took the stage. He sang a combination of old, semi-old and new songs. The crowd put up with the first few tunes, not sure whether to sit or stand and choosing a combination of both. When he finally performed something we all knew, “Small Town,” the auditorium awakened.

It was — finally — time to see a Mellencamp show.

The “deadly serious” directive must have just been a suggestion, as the digital point-and-shoots and the phones were out soon enough. Guests tried to be sneaky when breaking Mellencamp’s rule. But overly brightened screens and flashes forgotten to be turned off glowed, evidence from rows away.

Several people even unknowingly turned phone flashlights on while fumbling in the dark to sneak a chance at a pixelated, zoomed-in photo of the star. Some guests would quickly pop out the camera just to take a picture, flash on, only to accidentally shoot the back of the person’s head in front of them.

Did Mellencamp even make it into those photos? Likely not. Songs were captured on video — in grainy, wobbly frames, a few seconds at a time — before security would either approach or the person would decide on their own to pull back the camera, jerking it back down.

The woman who had spoken up in the bathroom earlier must have been wondering what in the world those around her were doing wasting time. Or she was lost in the show itself, which was going on for those focused on the music and amateur filmmakers alike.

We all knew Mellencamp is a gifted storyteller in song, but his spoken word was just as entertaining. His stories ranged from a funny one about a band mate being arrested for lewd vagrancy to a sweet one about how his grandmother told him “life is short, even in its longest days,” which set up his 2008 ballad “Longest Days.”

This one was sung to the audience during what Mellencamp called the “quiet session” in the middle of the show. During this time, he asked for no hooting and hollering — if guests were inclined to yell, they should go do it in the hallway, he said.

Plenty of cheering was to be had during the livelier hits. “Crumblin’ Down,” “Jack & Diane” were crowd favorites. Seeing “Pink Houses” performed live was alone a reason to attend; it was unforgettable.

At the end of the night, as the rest of the band left the stage, Mellencamp stayed back for one more moment with his fans. “Ain’t we all lucky to be alive?” he sang out, then offered a quick “Goodnight, you guys,” running off the stage — no encore needed.
13  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / John Mellencamp Puts His Masterstrokes On Display in Nashville on: March 27, 2019, 01:27:32 pm

John Mellencamp Puts His Masterstrokes On Display in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch
It really wasn't supposed to work out this way. John Mellencamp was hoping to become a painter. To help pay for art school he would sing in bands and ultimately he was discovered in the mid-seventies. Soon he would be marketed as a hot commodity leading to eventual rock stardom. That tale was told during a short documentary film shown before John's first of two sold-out concerts at the Ryman Auditorium on March 19, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.

John Mellencamp played his songs and "Other People's Stuff" in Nashville.
In Nashville, Mellencamp cut a figure that was reminiscent of two local icons - Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. The latter due to his all black attire and the former because the outfit was a blue-collar style jumpsuit. With only a splash of white showing from his exposed T-shirt beneath the traditional workingman's clothes John was letting you know he sided more with the average Joe than the glamour and glitz preferred by the King of Rock and Roll. But, like those amazing legends Mellencamp had plenty of hits and rock radio staples to play for the congregation at the city's Mother Church.

Like church, Mellencamp informed us that there would be plenty of hand clapping, dancing and sing alongs and some quiet moments, too. He then proceeded to lead a 100-minute revival that was full of purpose and musical manna mixed with revered songs containing both spiritual and social messages.

John's own journey to become the beloved musician he is today wasn't always an easy one and the opening movie made it a point to let the audience know Mellencamp was self-aware of these facts. He let himself be conned early on into changing his surname to "Cougar" to concoct an image and obscure his small town roots. He also confessed to allowing stubbornness and selfishness to side-track his career at the peak of his momentum. A heart attack would sideline him for another three years in the midst of a comeback.

 John Mellencamp Puts His Masterstrokes On Display in Nashville
John Mellencamp and his six-piece band were impressive in Music City.
Despite beating himself up a bit over these facts the heartland rocker never really slowed down and on his 24th album and latest record Other People's Stuff remains prolific as he continues his evolution from rock star to self-described "Poet" and folk singer of his generation. And, despite it all, Mellencamp did become known for his expressive impressionist paintings such as the one that adorns the cover of this covers album.

But, it is his earnest pop rock confections that he would become most famous for even as they drew upon his ample visual art talent. Consider the colorful "Pink Houses" and the starker "Rain on the Scarecrow" that both contained beautiful brushstrokes that resonated with the masses as they came to life with vivid imagery during the MTV revolution of the early 80's.

The stage set-up for this North American spring tour run of 36 dates was noticeably dominated by darker shades and hues perhaps reflecting these trying and uncertain times. But, the activist and philanthropist was content to let his music do most of the talking except for a quick summation of his political position as the spoken introduction to "Easy Target" that had Mellencamp professing his beliefs in equality, fairness and justice for all.

 John Mellencamp Puts His Masterstrokes On Display in Nashville
John Mellencamp led a mini-revival in the Mother Church.
"I'm up from Indiana down to Tennessee," John truthfully sang in his song "Peaceful World" and Mellencamp closed the night by reminiscing about old times - specifically coming to Nashville during the early Johnny Cougar days. He told a story about having to bailout longtime bandmate, guitarist and sidekick Mike Wanchic from a Davidson County holding cell. Earlier on that same evening the pop singer had been hustled in a game of billiards by longtime Nashvillian "Minnesota Fats" to the tune of 500 dollars.

Still, Mellencamp was as cool as a cue ball in Mid-Tenn as he and his talented six-piece band painted a powerful portrait of an American treasure in action. By the end of the show the one-time "Cougar" let a wry Cheshire cat smile emerge just a few times through his tough guy exterior. We can chalk that up to the fact that he was having as much fun as we were.

Setlist: Lawless Times | Troubled Land | Minutes to Memories | Small Town | Long Gone (From the Bowlin' Green) (Louis Armstrong cover) | Stones in My Passway (Robert Johnson cover) | We Are the People | Lonely Ol' Night | Check It Out | Longest Days | Jack & Diane | Easy Target | Overture (instrumental with violinist and accordionist) | Rain on the Scarecrow | Paper in Fire | Crumblin' Down | Authority Song / Land of 1000 Dances | Pink Houses | Cherry Bomb | Long Gone (From the Bowlin' Green) Reprise
14  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Announcements & Updates / John To Receive The ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award June 5th on: March 14, 2019, 09:19:10 am
John To Receive The ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award June 5th
03.11.2019 - WhyHunger to Honor Musician John Mellencamp at 20th Annual Chapin Awards Gala
--GRAMMY Winner fêted for work with farm community-
WhyHunger — a leader in the movement to end hunger and advance the human right to nutritious food in the U.S. and around the world—will present singer-songwriter John Mellencamp with the ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award during the 20th annual WhyHunger Chapin Awards on June 5, 2019 at City Winery in New York.

Mellencamp, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and recipient of the Woody Guthrie Award and the John Steinbeck Award, has used his music to document the ‘struggles of ordinary people seeking to make their way’ according to Rolling Stone. In 1985, he co-founded and organized Farm Aid, a groundbreaking concert to raise awareness and funds to strengthen America’s family farmers. He continues to serve on the organization’s board of directors.

“From his advocacy to his work with Farm Aid, John has continuously been a voice for promoting sustainable farming practices aimed at supporting farmers and their communities,” said Noreen Springstead, executive director, WhyHunger. “We are thrilled to recognize John. Not only does he embody the artist activist legacy of the Chapin Awards, but his decades long work to help build a just food system aligns well with WhyHunger’s mission to ensure the right to nutritious food for all.”

The ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award shines a spotlight on artists who have proven their commitment to striving for social justice and creating real change in combatting hunger worldwide. Over the past 20 years, WhyHunger has honored a cadre of artists at their annual Chapin Awards including Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger, Barbra Streisand, Yoko Ono Lennon, Tom Morello, Jon Batiste, Jackson Browne, Judy Collins, Emmylou Harris, Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels, Michael McDonald, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Kenny Rogers.

Emceed by Pete Dominick, comedian and host of SiriusXM’s Stand Up with Pete Dominick, the Chapin Awards gala raises critical funds to support WhyHunger’s work to end hunger and advance the human right to nutritious food in the U.S. and around the world.

To learn more about the WhyHunger Chapin Awards gala and to purchase tickets, visit

About WhyHunger
Founded in 1975 by the late Harry Chapin and radio DJ Bill Ayres, WhyHunger believes a world without hunger is possible. We provide critical resources to support grassroots movements and fuel community solutions rooted in social, environmental, racial and economic justice. WhyHunger is working to end hunger and advance the human right to nutritious food in the U.S. and around the world. Learn more at

15  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / Mellencamp Show’ reveals an old rocker who can still let loose on: February 23, 2019, 03:06:29 pm

One cue that this wouldn’t be the typical concert was its billing as “The John Mellencamp Show” and the note that it would start promptly at 8 p.m.

The lights at the Providence Performing Arts Center dimmed at exactly that hour Friday night for a 15-minute biographical film about the 67-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer featuring clips of interviews, American Bandstand and MTV appearances and his disembodied voice talking about an industry that made him change his name, tried to direct his music and contributed to his heart attack at the age of 42.

The film stoked the audience for the arrival of Mellencamp and his six-piece band for a 90-minute music set that almost lifted the roof off the building. As Mellencamp, self-billed as the “American Poet,” told the largely middle-aged crowd, “There’s going to be songs you know, songs you don’t know, songs you can sing along to and songs you can dance to.” And that was no lie.

Mellencamp, who’s logged 22 Top 40 hits and earned a Grammy Award, has been rocking his own blend of blues, rockabilly and solid rock ‘n’ roll since the 1970s but he sounded as fresh and as powerful as ever, and when he slung low in that squatty rocker’s crouch to wail on his guitar for “Paper and Fire,” it may as well have been 1985 all over again.

True to his statement, Mellencamp offered solid versions of such hits as “Small Town,” “Pink Houses,” “Jack and Diane” and “Lonely Ol’ Night,” his husky voice rolling easily over the lyrics that tell tales of Middle Americans’ struggles and dreams. He also introduced the audience to others like the more bluesy sound of “Lawless Times,” “Minutes to Memories” and a grittier “Troubled Land.”

His band featured prominently at points, too, lending a more countrified sound to the tunes. The guitars of Mike Wanchic and Andy York ground out a fiery chorus in “Pink Houses” while Troye Kinnett on accordion and Miriam Sturm on violin combined for a riveting overture that led into “Rain on the Scarecrow.” Sturm’s playing was fierce and full bodied, whether she was offering a wail back on “Easy Target” or haunting notes in “We Are the People.”

The show was well-paced with a soulful acoustic section in the middle for which Mellencamp demanded quiet attention, telling anyone wanting to shout to go into the lobby for a beer. His down-home demeanor added charm to “Longest Days,” a song prompted by his elderly grandmother telling him “life is short, even in its longest days.”

The acoustic portion of the set darkened a bit with “Full Catastrophe” and “Easy Target,” but Mellencamp kicked it back in high gear with a raucous version of “Crumblin’ Down” before rounding out the night with more nostalgia in “Authority Song” and “Cherry Bomb.”
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